Barcelona's Turn 9 safety improved

A raft of safety improvements have been made to the Circuit de Catalunya at Turn 9, where Heikki Kovalainen suffered his huge crash in last year's Spanish Grand Prix

Barcelona's Turn 9 safety improved

Kovalainen's car speared off the track head first into the barriers after a front wheel failure. His McLaren plunged straight into the barriers and, although the chassis broke in two, he suffered no serious injuries.

In light of what happened, the FIA has sanctioned improvements to the track at the corner which should minimise the chances of such a severe accident if a car suffers a similar problem.

The rear of the gravel trap at the turn has been raised by 1.5 metres to give a gradual upward incline to slow cars that run off the track, while the gravel trap itself has been renewed.

Also, an additional conveyor belt has been fitted to tyres straight on at the corner, to minimise the chances of a car penetrating the barriers again. Furthermore, the kerb and artificial grass behind the track at Turn 9 have been extended by 10 metres.

Other changes at the track include the large section of gravel at Turn 3 being replaced by asphalt, as well as further improvements to drainage and other tyre barriers at Turns 1 and 10.

Kovalainen has said he has no qualms about returning to Barcelona 12 months on from the crash.

"Going back to the scene of last year's accident doesn't change anything for me: I really enjoy this track," he said ahead of the event. "I had a great race to fifth here in 2007 and I love the high-speed corners, where you've got to push hard to get the maximum from the car."

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